The AV Sausage Machine

September 2, 2021

I remember walking into the lobby of a prominent Silicon Valley tech company.  It was one of probably 20 or 30 lobbies in the region for this company.  There was a flat panel display there and hanging below it was some sort of media player suspended by a combination of Cat-cable, HDMI, and duct tape.  Yes…silver duct tape.  To which I thought to myself, “lame.”  I never stopped to consider how one of the very richest companies on earth would end up with things mounted by duct tape.  I just went about my business and filed it in the lame file.

Only years later have I been fortunate or unfortunate enough to watch the AV Sausage machine grind up the AV bits and spit out a Jimmy Dean’s Duct Tape Sandwich…  and the more I learn, the more I am surprised that anything works ever.

It is easy to hate AV.  You go to turn on your TV, and it says “HDMI 1″ and there is nothing on the screen behind it.  You get on your Zoom meeting, but your audio needs to be connected and you sit there talking with no sound because mysteriously, every Zoom meeting starts without audio being connected.  There is a lot to hate about AV.  But the worst parts of AV are not caused by AV itself.  AV is this mess of an industry that might be considered a skilled trade, and it might be considered an appliance.  It is both, and it is neither.  But one thing is for certain…it is the last thing that gets done in ANY construction project.

But it isn’t just the fact that the AV folks are the last ones in the building before the public gets in.  It is the last in line for most EVERYTHING.  Like in the design process.  Plumbing?  Check.  Lighting?  Check.  HVAC?  Check.  AV?  It’s after 5pm Lets go have a beer and deal with that later.

So, AV at the end of the design process also means it is at the end of the design BUDGET.  So, when you are bidding a job and the design looks like a chimp (Cocoa) did it, it isn’t because the consultancy hired chimps.  It is because the project ran out of money, and the user said, “Uh…we can’t afford any more fee, but here are some Starbucks cards that might have something left on them.”  And the client eventually said, “Can you just use duct tape?”

So that happens.

So, when you are on a job site and it looks like the integrator before you cut every conceivable corner to get the work done, please consider that it may not have been their intention.  They just might have been thrown into the hopper and had the AV sausage machine spit them out as twisted little a/v wieners.